Mr. Kolbe Thaggard is probably one of the most stylish cigar aficionados out there. Take a look at Kolbe’s Instagram profile and you’ll know we are not exaggerating. So stylish that he has his own luxury fashion brand and a brand new website.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Who are you?
I’m the Owner/Designer of my Luxury Fashion Brand that I established a few years ago. Fashion is what I am deeply passionate about and it’s to me about more than just suits. It goes through to womenswear as well. The plan is to continue to grow my brand via social media, introducing new collections and present my first full Menswear & Womenswear collection at New York Fashion Week for the 2022 season which I am very excited about.
I’m a detail-oriented person to the point of obsession. This is why Italy as a point of manufacturing my brand is important to me. The level of quality, detail, craftsmanship, and heritage is what I fell in love with. Surprisingly enough, I also became totally obsessed with cigars around the same time as starting my brand.
How’s the cigar scene inside the high-end fashion world?
It’s more prevalent than most would think, in my personal experience.
I travel most of every month and along with that, I am allowed to experience many different cities, meet amazing people and learn what they are about. Most of my menswear customers enjoy cigars on a regular and or occasional basis. Even some of the women do which I was pleasantly surprised to see.
How do you see the cigar scene evolving inside your business world?
I personally believe cigars will only become more popular within the world of high fashion and luxury industry in general.
With publications that focus on luxury and heritage such as The Rake, Robb Report, and various influencers, more people are being introduced to the finer things in life which I think is fantastic.
What’s your honest take on the eternal debate of Cuban vs non-Cuban cigars?
It’s all about preference in my opinion. There are so many fantastic Dominican, Brazilian, Nicaraguan cigars that you’d be hard-pressed to find something you don’t enjoy. Cubans, at least for me, are all about the appreciation of heritage and craftsmanship, and the experience of enjoying those things.
Based on that, what’s your personal preference?
It’s 50/50 for me. I enjoy all cigars, and with that being said you’ll catch me on any given day smoking either a Padron, Cavalier, Partagas, H. Upmann, various other Cubans, and many other cigars. It just depends on if I am traveling or at home.
Cigar smoking can raise some unwanted attention. Do people in your area still get surprised to see you have a cigar?
I travel a lot so I get to see a lot of different reactions to cigars. It’s quite hilarious to me sometimes. I am in Seattle primarily and if you know anything about Seattle, you know that there is ZERO indoor smoking. You have to buy your cigars and smoke them either at home or outside. There are a few exceptions to this though. Seattle has one or two private lounges however they are by consideration and application only, and they are limited to a certain number of members. So if you want in, be prepared to pay for it.
Usually, people have two first-time moments: the first cigar and the cigar that ignited the passion you have today. What were yours?
While I cannot recall what my first cigar was specifically, I do remember the experience.
I walked into a bar to get a cocktail and was instead greeted by a room packed full of men smoking cigars. I sat down at the bar and the bartender handed me a bag of cigars along with a cutter and matches. It turned out to be an after-party for an annual cigar event that is held every year in Oklahoma City.
Me, not wanting to look like an idiot, I take a cigar out of the bag, cut way too much off of the cap, light it, and inhale it!! It was quite possibly the most embarrassing moment of my life up to this point. I was coughing like crazy and my face was so red. A guy named Tony looked at me and said: “you’ve never smoked a cigar before, have you?” I felt like a total idiot and responded “no”. He taught me how to properly enjoy a cigar and to this day he remains one of my best friends and I have made many connections through him.
Give us some detail about your collection, what do you have in your humidor?
It’s pretty lean at the moment since I travel a lot. My normal rotation looks something like this: Padron (all of their cigars), Davidoff, CAO Amazon Basin (this is a rare and limited release), Cavalier Cigars, Partagas Series D No 4, Vegas Robaina Famosos, Bolivar Belicosos Finos, H. Upmann Anejados, just to name a few.
What’s the best cigar you have ever had?
That’s a near-impossible question to answer because I have so many favorites. If I had to choose, likely the Bolivar Belicosos Finos or Partagas D4.
Based on that, what’s the perfect pairing for it?
I prefer the classic pairings such as a whiskey, or if I am having a cocktail, it’s an old fashioned made with Blanton’s Burbon or a Negroni. For food, of course, a delicious steak, prosciutto, and cheese or a charcuterie board with a bit of chocolate and coffee.
Everyone has their own ritual when starting a cigar session. What’s yours? Yes, we want all those little details.
I prefer to start my day with an americano and cigar. Normally with something medium-bodied such as the Bolivar Belicosos Finos or similar. For me enjoying an exceptional cigar first thing in the morning is one of the best things in the world.
You can have as many cigars as you want, forever BUT it always has to be the same. What would you pick?
Most likely the Bolivar Belicosos Finos. I mention this cigar a lot, don’t I? You will catch me with a handful of these on most occasions.
What do you look for in a cigar retailer?
When I am purchasing from a store in person, I prefer to find a store with a great selection and atmosphere. If they have a lounge, that’s a plus for me since I love meeting and talking to new people. If it’s online, I prefer them to have a social media community and presence so I will know it’s a trusted source that people love.
You are one of our first Brand Ambassadors, how’s that going for you so far?
I love being a part of the ATC family. There’s nothing else like it on social media and it spans worldwide. I only expect to see it grow over the years and I personally cannot wait to attend an in-person event with you in Europe this year.
Imagine that the embargo to Cuba is lifted. What will happen next?
Honestly, I think it would create some issues. Supply and quality being the two largest ones. Cuba, as a region for tobacco, can only grow so much every year and along with that, the factories can only facilitate so much production without sacrificing the quality and construction of each cigar. I think it should stay how it is for the sake of retaining quality and exclusivity.
With the smoking restrictions in almost all places, do you see the private club scene growing in your country?
Yes and no. There are certainly lounges and clubs opening in many states however finding one that is consistent with the selection of cigars and drinks (if they serve them) is one of the more difficult things to find. Thankfully that’s where Google comes in handy so you can see photos and reviews.
Fake cigars are a real problem, we see them popping everywhere. What’s your take on the counterfeit industry and what can we do to minimize the damage?
It really comes down to being educated. Make sure you know the product and what you are buying. If you are not educated, make sure to purchase only from legitimate sources online — like All Things Cigars — or get referrals from friends.
What’s your favorite cigar accessory?
Definitely my custom Xikar Cutter.
Are you a soft-flame or a torch lighter guy?
It varies on where I am. Normally I use a torch.
What is your favorite personality in the cigar community and why?
I really enjoy the cigar community as a whole. Both online and in person. To me, it’s more than just about enjoying a cigar. It’s about the people you meet, the connections that are made and the journeys that it takes you on. I can’t tell you how many customers I have met just through the cigar industry alone. There is such a wide array of individuals in the industry and that is what I love. You can be in a cigar lounge and be sitting next to CEOs and owners of massive companies or just the regular person that enjoys cigars.
Instagram is one of your main digital platforms, how do you see the removal of the Like counts that is already live in some countries?
I personally think it’s not necessary. In a world now where everyone receives a participation trophy, it makes it more difficult to know who is real and who is fake on Instagram because anyone can go and purchase likes/followers. I think it was a huge mistake on Instagram's part.
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